Another Ridiculous Assignment from an Editor
Yesterday, I received a call from an editor of an auto magazine in Detroit, wanting me to rent a Chevy Malibu in Boston and drive to Washington, DC. A photographer will be joining me to take shots. She wants me to describe the drive. Okay, not exactly the most scenic stretch of highway in America, especially when you’re passing the chemical plants in northern New Jersey. I’ve been a travel writer for 20 years, so I’ve had my fair share of absurd assignments. The worst was a request from Men’s Journal to backpack along a stretch of the Mojave Desert with a guy who was designing a long-distance Desert Trail though the Western states. I had to backpack in with over 30 pounds of water and my own blend of dehydrated food. The heat was brutal and the only signs of civilization I saw were deflated balloons hanging from the cacti. You want to know where your kid’s helium balloons go when they lose them? This forgotten hellhole. By the third day, my feet were covered with blisters, my supply of water was sucked dry, and the tape in my trusty microcassette recorder had melted. The editor ended up cutting my 1500-word story to 500 words due to space limitations. But I did better than the photographer I was traveling with, who had to schlep in his heavy camera equipment on top of the water. They didn’t accept any of his work. Must have been that glaring sun.